Let the Cracking Begin... Sunderland, Portsmouth, Royal Holloway, Plymouth, Bristol and us!


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We've just finished our cipher code for the University Cipher Challenge, and we must admit it has been great fun coding the cipher, and scrambling things and twiddling bits. Hopefully our cipher is a lot of fun to crack.

Once our code has been assessed by the other universities, we'll tell you how we did it (press release from last year here).

The team is named Napier's Bones, and aims to show that the legacy of John Napier lives on in Cyber space.

The universities taking part in the final are:

  1. University of Sunderland.
  2. University of Portsmouth.
  3. Bristol University.
  4. Royal Holloway.
  5. Edinburgh Napier University.
  6. University of Plymouth.

The ciphers must be:

  1. Based on UK English.
  2. Puzzles / games must be playable within the time provided.
  3. Should be computationally possible, within a reasonable time frame.

where codes that are too difficult will get penalties, so we've design one that should be fun to crack.

The Ghost of John Napier

The legacy of John Napier lives on in Computer Security, and now he could provide the foundation for privacy within the Information Age. It was thus John Napier who first proposed that we can multiple two numbers together (a, b), and by finding the finding the log of a and add it to the log of b, we could then take the inverse log to find the result. This change the face of calculations, where we could multiple large numbers together, just by looking up a table for the log, and adding the results, and again reverse through a look-up table. In the days of high performance computing, it might seems a trivial thing, but, at the time, it complete changed the whole of science.

a * b = Inverse Log ( Log (a) + Log (b))

The base of the log is important for the calculation. For our decimal system we use a base of 10, but for many natural operations we use a natural log base (e=2.718). This base is used in many naturally occurring changes, including with electrical currents and voltages. For example the changing of a capacitor follows an exponential growth, which is based on our natural logarithm base

Our team

Our team of highly skilled cipher crackers are (known as Napier's Bones):

  • Mcivor, Daniel
  • Robles Durazno, Andres Santiago
  • Zvakayi, Nathanael
  • Young, Alexander
  • Staykov, Mario
  • MacDonald, John
  • Prajapati, Biraj
  • Brown, Daniel
  • Kopyra, Michal
  • Stewart, Morgan
  • Rus, Cosmin Greig, Aaron
  • Sharpe, Lewis
  • Kleman, Robbie
  • Michailov, Andrej
  • Bantug, Vibanni
  • Mukhandi, Munkenyi Shomari
  • Pervez, Hannan

It has been great fun creating the cipher, without complicated cryptography, so we are looking forward to cracking the ciphers from others.

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Associated people

William Buchanan
Director of CDCS
+44 131 455 2759
Electronic information now plays a vital role in almost every aspect of our daily lives. So the need for a secure and trustworthy online infrastructure is more important than ever. without it, not only the growth of the internet but our personal interactions and the economy itself could be at risk.